2 Aug 2018

Gloriavale 'entitled' to apply for funding but no guarantees

7:43 am on 2 August 2018

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says he didn't expect communes to put in for a share of the provincial growth fund but Gloriavale's application has shown anyone can try.

Shane Jones

Shane Jones Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

TVNZ reported on Tuesday the West Coast religious sect was seeking millions of taxpayer dollars for a new health food company and factory from the government's $3 billion regional fund.

"I did not conceive at the time when we drove through the Cabinet paper that communes would be applying but I have to accept that they made an application and it'll go through the process," Mr Jones told reporters at Parliament yesterday.

The application would be considered professionally like any other but that did not mean it would see the "fiscal light of day''.

Mr Jones said there would be a due diligence check and the application's success would come down to their character and their business proposal.

The minister said he had no plans to visit Gloriavale's closed community but when he spoke to members of the group in the South Island on a recent visit he created an opportunity for his Labour Cabinet colleague, West Coast MP Damien O'Connor, to do so.

"I actually met, in the audience, two of the fellas from Gloriavale. They were dressed like 1950s sort of traffic officers so they did stick out a bit.

"They had figurative names, something like Eager Upright or something quite really strange. It was just an ordinary discussion.

"They did tell me they have a successful party down there. They encouraged me to go to the party, I heard that it was alcohol-free so I gave the invitation to the sitting member.

"So I'm not going to Gloriavale.''